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Old 09-29-2011, 09:26 PM   #1
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Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

Hey all,
We live at 5,500ft and camp almost always at above 9,000ft, up to 13,000ft. I'm looking to add a furnace to my SMB and need to find one that will work well at altitude.

Any recommendations? Been starting to look at the Espars and Suburbans. Does anyone have favorite models and size for use at higher altitudes.

Thanks!!
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:07 PM   #2
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Re: Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

Have a Suburban camped last weekend at 10,500 worked fine as always.
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Old 09-29-2011, 10:21 PM   #3
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Re: Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
Have a Suburban camped last weekend at 10,500 worked fine as always.
Hey jage,
We live in Boulder. What model suburban do you have and how many btu? We just got our first SMB this summer and it's the best purchase we have ever made and are looking forward to using it year round so it's time to get a good furnace. Looking forward to some dawn patrols in the mtns this year and NOT sleeping in my suby.
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:21 AM   #4
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Re: Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

i just picked up a propex-still in the box but all the VW guys have never had a problem. i am out in lafayette BTW
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Old 09-30-2011, 11:13 AM   #5
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Re: Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

We have used a Suburban in the past but our new build will have a Propex (which we haven't tried yet). The Suburban has a fixed speed motor and the speed varies depending on voltage and air temperature. The Propex has an electronically controlled motor which provides a constant air flow and compensates for voltage and temperature.

The biggest problem we had with the Suburban was it sometimes wouldn't start up in low temperatures with low voltage. I'm hoping the Propex will be better. The other nice thing about the Propex is it's compact size and more flexible mounting location. The Suburban has to be mounted perpendicular and adjacent to an exterior wall, at least 36" away from the gas filler. The Propex intake and exhaust are flexible tubes that can be routed under the van. The Propex is supposedly quieter than the Suburban as well.

The Espar gasoline model also looks interesting but it's even more expensive than the Propex.
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Old 10-01-2011, 11:02 PM   #6
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Re: Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coguzzi
i just picked up a propex-still in the box but all the VW guys have never had a problem. i am out in lafayette BTW

Great thanks for all the comments. Might check out the Propex, too

Coguzzi- Is there a place that can do the install around here for the Propex system? I could do it myself probably but I'm just real busy right now. Boulder RV sells the Suburban models and does install for $250-500. I need to take my van there for a quote to know the exact $$. They might do the Propex too, I'll have to ask.
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:12 AM   #7
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Re: Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

local seller of the propex is Rocky Mountain Westy in fort collins, mike will do anything you want and does not only work on VW's, but has made a large specialty side of his business out of it

http://www.rockymountainwesty.com
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:44 PM   #8
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Re: Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

I looked at the Suburban NT 20k btu and the Propex 9 kbtu. Went with the Suburban. The Propex is a nice, compact unit, but the tubes exit the van thru the floor and stick out below the van's body, not good for deep snow or water crossings and may interfere with ground clearance. Rocky Mt. Westy up in Ft. Collins knows these units well and can answer any questions about 'em.

I camp quite a bit in the winter at altitudes over 9,000' and live at 9200'. The furnace works fine but does have a built in circuit that shuts the unit down if the battery isn't supplying enough power. Also, after three months of ownership, the limit switch failed and had to be replaced. It took me over two hours to wrestle the unit out of it's home (underneath the cabinets and in front of the rear left wheel well) and replace the switch. It's working like a champ, now. Just returned from Alaska and the Yukon with no problems.

There are some great deals on line these days. the NT 20S is overkill and draws 2.8 amps but cranks out the heat when it's cold.

I'm up in Silverthorne now but come to Boulder from time to time. You're more than welcome to check it out.

Regards,

Jay
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:48 PM   #9
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Re: Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

correction- mounted behind the left rear wheel well.
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:41 AM   #10
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Re: Adding a Furnace for camping above 9,000ft. Suggestions?

Awesome. Thanks for the replies.

I'm heading to Boulder RV today to a quote on the Suburban NT16 (seems like enough juice and our SMB is well insulated to hold the heat). The Propex is still in the running b/c I might need a more compact unit for my layout (not a lot of extra space on the left side).

That's interesting about the Propex vent tubes. I wonder if they can be routed out the side instead of the bottom?? Our van's not 4x4, (yet :-)) so snow,water, and clearance issues are something to think about if I convert to 4x4 and am taking the van into more situations like that. I'm sure it will just take me getting stuck after a dawn patrol to pull the trigger on a 4x4 (which conversion will be an entirely different discussion)..

Thanks.
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